Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 336

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, has a ton of work to do tonight as there have been trades made, championships won, championships to be awarded, and we'll likely dive into a topic that once again needs addressing despite our many discussions about fan behaviour. It's like we, as humans, never learn that in this day and age there are cameras everywhere thanks to smartphones, and likely someone will be capturing whatever you're doing if it even remotely close to being out of the ordinary. Sometimes, I really wonder how people who were captured in this video can look themselves in the mirror and be happy with what they see.

The man to the left is Jonathan Diaby, and he was the Marquis de Jonquière player who endured the racist comments in a game against Saint-Jérôme. There is no way that this should be happening in 2019, and Beans, Jason Pchajek, and myself will discuss how this happens as it's not the first time that we've seen this kind of treatment of African-American players. We'll also break down the trade deadline deals, we'll talk about who won the Winnipeg High School Hockey League championship, we'll set you up for the epic Canada West Championship battle between Manitoba and Alberta, and we'll talk about who else may be joining these two teams in Charlottetown. It should be another busy show, so make sure you're tuned in at 5:30pm!

The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or perhaps another browser. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

Having lost faith in Facebook, I spend far less time on that site for good reasons. In saying that, you can still email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz, Beans, and Jason Pchajek discuss some very ugly incidents that have happened in Canada regarding racism and how we may go about stopping it from happening again, the trade deadline with winners and losers from our perspectives, high school hockey, university hockey, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: February 28, 2019: Episode 336

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

The Best Are Named

It's always an exciting time when Canada West names their distinguished players of the year. The four main categories include the Player of the Year, the Rookie of the Year, the Coach of the Year, and the Student-Athlete Community Service Award which recognizes the player whose contributions in the community were the best seen this season. Among all of the awards, the Player of the Year Award comes with an obvious sense of accomplishment, but the Community Service Award is always one that I feel has the prestige of being a true honour thanks to all the people the winner has affected. There were definitely some favorites regarding who would win these awards this season, so let's waste little time and get to the winners.

Player of the Year

There's little debate on this award, but one of her teammates was certainly in the conversation. Alex Poznikoff of the Alberta Pandas is this year's winner as she led the conference in goals (15), assists (22), and points (37) in being part of the highest-scoring line in the nation with Autumn MacDougall and Kennedy Ganser as well as helping Alberta claim top spot in Canada West and a top-three national ranking all season long. Only in five games this season was she held off the scoresheet, and she was lethal on special team play with four power-play goals and three shorthanded markers. There's no denying that Poznikoff was this season's most dynamic player in Canada West, and her being named as the Player of the Year is well-deserved!

Rookie of the Year

What is there isn't to say about Breanne Trotter's season? Trotter's first campaign in Canada West saw her post nine goals and 11 assists in 28 games to put her firmly in fifth-place in Canada West scoring and she led the Mount Royal Cougars in scoring. What makes this feat a little more amazing is that she was held off the scoresheet in 14 games this season - half of the Cougars' games! Despite the streaky nature of her scoring, Trotter was also a big-body force in games this season, using her size and speed to carry pucks to the net and set teammates up. Trotter was a big part of the reason that Mount Royal was able to record their best finish in Canada West ever at fifth-place, and she looks to be a big part of this Cougars team for the next four years!

Coach of the Year

Again, it's hard to argue with success, and this man just keeps churning out success like it's coming off a conveyor belt. Alberta Pandas head coach was named as Coach of the Year today, marking the sixth time he's been named to the accolade (2000, '02, '03, '04, '11, '19). Not only did he coach the Team Canada U18 women's team to a gold medal in Japan earlier this season, but his team was one of the best defensive squads in Canada West history in surrendering just 24 goals in 28 games while compiling a 19-5-4-0 record. The Pandas finished the season ranked #1 in U SPORTS, and head coach Howie Draper is a large part why the Pandas have been one of U SPORTS most accomplished teams since their founding in 1997.

Student-Athlete Community Service

This year's winner is Anna Purschke of the Mount Royal Cougars, and she is doing some amazing work in Calgary. First off, Anna had six goals and three assists on the ice for Mount Royal this season as she helped the team finish in fifth-place, their highest finish in team history, while she posted a 3.75 GPA this year. What makes her incredible work on the ice and at school so remarkable is the amount of time she spent helping others. Purschke spent more than 100 hours volunteering in her community this season with Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) and with Special Olympics Calgary where she worked with the snowshoeing team on weekends!

From the HEROS website, "Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) is a volunteer-driven charity that uses the game of ice hockey to teach life-skills and empower marginalized youth.... [They provide] free programs to youth of all backgrounds from a grade four level, right up to post-secondary. We provide opportunities for personal growth through sport training, educational development, and scholarships guiding participants to become constructive citizens and future community leaders." The currently have 20 programs in nine cities across Canada: Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Sunshine Coast, Surrey, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and it's pretty clear that Anna Purschke plays a big role in helping youth in Calgary in a very significant way!

These four players are now eligible for the U SPORTS national awards in the categories for which they won, and that awards gala happens in Charlottetown on Wednesday, March 13. There will likely be some other excellent players up for the U SPORTS Player of the Year award and the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year award, and there are always some exceptional student-athletes who have done amazing work in their communities to better everyone. I will go out on a limb and suggest that Howie Draper's season likely makes him the favorite for U SPORTS Coach of the Year, but Isabelle Leclaire of the Montreal Carabins could be a winner based on Montreal's season.

In any case, there were some remarkable efforts this season in Canada West, particularly from these four individuals, and I'm glad they're getting the recognition for those efforts that they deserve.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

A Multi-Sport Athlete?

We're going to play a little game where you need to guess what all of these people have in common: Will Smith, Grace Kelly, Kevin Bacon, and Gritty. If you guessed that they're all actors, I don't think Gritty qualifies while only Grace Kelly has won an Academy Award of the four individuals. The correct answer is that they're famous Philadelphians who held two high-profile titles! Will Smith is an actor and musician, Grace Kelly was an actress before becoming the Princess of Monaco, and Kevin Bacon is also an actor and musician. As for Gritty, we know he has some skill when it comes to hockey, but would you believe he may have a future in basketball?

At first, I simply disregarded this as a promotional tool with the Harlem Globetrotters coming to town. After all, Gritty is a hockey mascot, not a basketball player. He's simply helping out the Gloebtrotters in the commercial, right?
Gritty didn't get to show off his mad basketball skills, but it dawned on me that he actually had shown off his skills earlier this season when he dropped in on a Rutgers basketball game and did this!
Perhaps we're on the verge of seeing Gritty become a two-sport phenomenon? The 76ers currently employ Franklin the Dog - seen here at the top-right - but I fail to see the tie-in with the choice of a dog. Gritty reportedly already lives at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, so why not just get him a XXXXL jersey and let the big man jack half-court shots all night long? The kicker in all this is that there's already a petition to remove Franklin the Dog as the mascot for the 76ers, and the blue puppy nearly made the king of all mascot blunders by almost missing his very first dunk. Our boy Gritty? He's like another Philly basketball icon in Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins - he's bringing the hammer if they let him get airborne! And to think that Franklin replaced rabbit mascot Hip-Hop - seen at the bottom-right - which was all sorts of awful in his own right. Philly, you only seem to succeed with monster-like, oversized mascots. Stop with the human-form animals.

With Gritty already supplanting the Philly Phantic as the best mascot in Philadelphia, it appears he's crossing over into new sports. Is there anything that Gritty can't do?

Here's a new game where people have things in common: Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan, Gritty. If your guess was multi-sport pro athlete, you've mastered these two questions just like Gritty has mastered two sports!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 25 February 2019

Heady D-Hayes Ahead?

Trade deadline day is usually a day where big names are moved, surprise trades happen, and teams mark their territories as either buyers or sellers. Last season's deadline saw the Winnipeg Jets raise eyebrows in their acquisition of Paul Stastny, so there was hope that GM Kevin Cheveldayoff could land another big fish without sacrificing the future. How did the Jets fare on Trade Deadline 2019? Would they make a splash and go get one of the big piece still on most sports networks' trade boards?

I'm not here to say that Cheveldayoff may be recognizing that the window of opportunity for the Jets to win the Stanley Cup may be closing. There are going to be some difficult decisions that the team will have to make this summer regarding a handful of young players, and I don't think another spring with nothing to show for their work in the playoffs will be good enough for the players or the fans. In saying that, the Jets shored up a couple of key areas where they needed some help.

In his first move of the day, Cheveldayoff called up the Rangers and acquired Kevin Hayes in exchange for Winnipeg's 2019 first-round pick, forward Brendan Lemieux, and a 2022 conditional fourth-round pick should the Jets win the Stanley Cup. In getting Hayes, the Jets get the big centerman who can pass as well as he shoots while playing a solid 200-foot game. In giving up a fourth-line player and the Jets' first-round pick - likely a late-round pick - Cheveldayoff didn't alter the makeup of his team aside from reducing the number of dumb penalties his team may take.

A second trade that seemed to polarize fans on social media, Cheveldayoff picked up centerman Matt Hendricks from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a 2020 seventh-round pick. I have to admit that this move took me by surprise as well, but it's fairly clear that this move is less about Hendricks playing on the ice and more about what Hendricks brings to the team off it. The guys loved having him as part of the Black Aces last season for his presence around the locker room, and it seems that will be his role once again this season.

In a move that can be only described as merciful, the Jets finally traded Nic Petan so that he no longer finds himself in the Winnipeg press box. The only problem, it seems, is that he could find himself in a new press box as the Jets swapped him to Toronto for forward Par Lindholm whose best work is done as a defensive forward. Lindholm's acquisition appears to be a depth move as it's unlikely he'll supplant anyone off Winnipeg's fourth line at the moment, but NHL-experienced bodies who play a solid defensive game in the playoffs are players all teams covet.

With the likelihood of Josh Morrissey missing significant time after leaving the game against Arizona with a visible shoulder injury, the Jets went and acquired a couple of left-shooting defencemen to fill the void. Cheveldayoff gave Jason Botterill a call, and when he hung up the phone the Jets had acquired little-used defenceman Nathan Beaulieu for a 2019 sixth-round pick. Beaulieu played well in Montreal before he ran into some poor play and injury trouble in Buffalo, and the Jets are hoping that he can find the game he showed in La Belle Province as he'll likely slot into the lineup immediately.

In getting some left-shooting defensive depth, the Jets went out and picked up Bogdan Kiselevich from the Florida Panthers for a 2021 seventh-round pick. Kiselevich is seen more as a defensive defender who has shown some solid play in his own zone with the Panthers. The Jets had pursued the Russian defencemen this past summer when he made it known he was looking for an NHL job, and it seems Chevy finally got his man after this trade.

And in a final move, the Jets made a minor-league move in acquiring Alex Broadhurst from Columbus - a tram that was rapidly approaching the maximum NHL contract limit with all their deals - for future considerations. If Columbus sees a number of their unrestricted free agents walk, there's a strong possibility that Broadhurst could be the future considerations for which he was dealt.

So how did it go, you're asking? Well, if Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey return in March, the Jets suddenly have a pile of options and a ton of depth on the blue line as they prepare for a long playoff run. While Sami Niku and Tucker Poolman haven't been forgotten, there are sorts of options with Ben Chiarot, Dmitry Kulikov, Joe Morrow, Beaulieu, and Kiselevich all able to play on the left side. Injuries shouldn't hamper this team's blue line if they get into a war with the likes of Nashville, Vegas, or San Jose.

The depth that Winnipeg added up front to support the twelve men that Paul Maurice rolls out there every night certainly won't wow anyone, but both Lindholm and Hendricks will give Maurice a solid effort every night while being great guys at practice. They won't make highlight reels, but they will bring their lunch pails every day to help make this team better.

However, let's not forget the centerpiece that Cheveldayoff brought in as Kevin Hayes should make his linemates better. He is an excellent passer, a skill he developed on a line with Hobey Baker Award-winner Johnny Gaudreau at Boston College. Since arriving in the NHL, he's been refining his game as an exceptional two-way centerman who will put in the work in the defensive zone as much as he will in offensive zone. Hayes won't be on many highlight reels nightly, but his skill set should fit nicely in Winnipeg's system.

If I'm handing out a grade for Kevin Cheveldayoff's work today, I believe it earns him a B+ depending on how the defence pans out. There's no denying that getting Hayes without dismantling his current roster was a savvy move while his depth moves cost him very little with the chances of being rewarded being higher. Seeing those chances come to fruition will be the challenge now for the both the coaching staff and the players, but if the Jets get a push from Beaulieu and Kiselevich on the blue line, you can turn that B+ into an A for Chevy.

It was a good day for the Jets on Monday. Now the work begins.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Rundown - Semifinals

We started this weekend with four teams as Saskatchewan met Alberta and UBC met Manitoba, but we'll finish this week with only two teams still standing. Those two teams will not only meet for the Canada West championship banner next weekend, but they will also be the two representatives from the Canada West Conference who will travel to Charlottetown, PEI for the 2019 U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship! Let's break this down on this week's edition of The Rundown!

After surviving a scare for the Mount Royal Cougars, the Saskatchewan Huskies traveled to Edmonton to meet the top-seeded Alberta Pandas. Clare Drake Arena is where a lot of dreams die for road teams, so could Saskatchewan find a way to break through against Alberta?

It didn't take long for the home side to find the scoreboard as the top-scoring unit in the country went to work. Just 97 seconds into the game, Autumn MacDougall picked up a loose puck behind the Saskatchewan net, backhanded a pass out front that found Alex Poznikoff, and the Alberta sniper buried it past Jessica Vance to put the Pandas up 1-0!

It seemed that Alberta was going to allow Saskatchewan back into the game as Alex Gowie was whistled for a four-minute double-minor penalty for a check to the head, but the stout Pandas' penalty-killing units stood tall in front of Kirsten Chamberlin during the extended power-play time. A power-play for the Pandas also went unsuccessful after they killed off the Gowie infraction, so this game would move to the second period with the Pandas leading 1-0.

The second period saw the two teams trade chances, but both Vance and Chamberlin stand tall for their teams. There were no penalties called as five-on-five play filled the period, but we'd move to the third period with the 1-0 lead intact for Alberta and the Pandas leading in shots with a 21-15 advantage.

The third period seemed like more of the same as the two teams simply could not solve the netminders, but we would see one more goal. The second power-play unit for Alberta would make good on their opportunity as Amy Boucher on the backdoor picked up the rebound off the initial shot from Abby Krzyzaniak and deposited it into the yawning cage for the 2-0 lead with 4:45 to play. From there, the Pandas simply locked down their zone as they skated to the Game One victory with the 2-0 win! Kirsten Chamberlin pitched the 17-save shutout for the win while Jessica Vance suffered the loss after stopping 25 shots.

Highlights are below!

It was do-or-die for the Huskies in this game as Alberta was one win away from booking a berth in the Canada West Final. After being shutout the day before, could Saskatchewan find the offence it needed to secure a win?

Saskatchewan came out with the desperation that one would expect as they peppered Kirsten Chamberlin with shots early and often. Chamberlin, for her part, was ready for the barrage of shots, making key saves throughout the period. Jessica Vance withstood the Alberta attack in her own crease as well, but the Pandas would get to her with nearly no time left as Alex Gowie came around the net with seconds to play in the frame and found Regan Wright who buried it past Vance with 0.5 seconds remaining for the 1-0 lead!

The two teams would continue their furious battle in the second period, and it would take Saskatchewan until the latter portion of the stanza to find twine. Morgan Willoughby's shot from the point appeared to hit something in front of Chamberlin, and the redirection got past the netminder at 16:15 to even the game at 1-1! The Pandas would storm back, though, and Cayle Dillon's point shot found its way through the screen in front of Vance and past the netminder with 33 seconds to play as the Pandas restored the one-goal lead heading into the second intermission!

In the third period, Saskatchewan seemed to try to do everything and anything they could to tie the game short of running Chamberlin, but a late penalty for too many players killed any chance of having the extra attacker on the ice. Vance still went to the bench, but time would run out on the Huskies as the Pandas secured the 2-1 win victory to advance to the Canada West Final! Kirsten Chamberlin made 24 stops for the victory while Jessica Vance lost her third game of these playoffs in a 22-save effort.

It should also be noted that Pandas forward Autumn MacDougall went down with an apparent shoulder injury midway through this game and did not return. Her absence will hopefully only be temporary as she is a key piece of this Pandas team!

Highlights are below!

UBC came into Winnipeg having absolutely dismantled Regina, outscoring the Cougars 10-1 in their two games. The Bisons, having had the bye, needed to be ready to deal with the UBC skill, speed, and goaltending as Tory Micklash has been en fuego for the last month of hockey. Would the Bisons be able to slow down the high-flying Thunderbirds?

The Thunderbirds came out and had their skating legs under them early on as the Bisons found themselves plagued by another slow start. They were in the game, but generating chances from scoring areas seemed to elude them as UBC worked to carry the play. Midway through the period, they'd be rewarded after Mekaela Fisher and Lauryn Keen were sent off 43 seconds apart to give UBC an abbreviated five-on-three advantage. Manitoba killed off the first penalty, but Mathea Fischer's shot at 10:16 found the twine behind Lauren Taraschuk with traffic in front, and UBC claimed the 1-0 lead! Despite a power-play to either team in the second half of the period, that score would hold through the intermission.

The second period started with a bang as the Bisons tied the game before the water had frozen on the surface of the rink! Lauryn Keen broke in on the right wing and threw a shot on net that caught Tory Micklash by surprise as it snuck between her body and the post for a goal just 12 seconds into the frame! The Bisons weren't done there as Karissa Kirkup picked up a puck and went for a skate past two Thunderbirds before coming in 1-on-2 on the T-Birds' defenders, and her initial shot was stopped by Micklash but the goalie kicked the puck out back to Kirkup and she buried the second chance at 5:43 to give the Bisons the 2-1 lead!

The period settled down after the Bisons took the lead as both teams refocused on their defensive games while trying to find seams in the opponent's coverage. Late in the period, Hannah Koroll's long wrist shot for the point deflected off the skate of Jenai Buchanan in front of Taraschuk and past the netminder, and the unfortunate break of the Bisons meant that we were tied up at 2-2 at 14:35! That score would hold through the remaining time as Manitoba held a 24-12 advantage in shots through two periods.

Early in the third period, a scramble in front of the UBC net saw Madison Patrick fall on the puck in the blue paint, and the officials blew the play dead moments after she didn't move off of it to signal for a penalty shot! Alanna Sharman was sent over the boards, and she made a great fake to freeze Micklash before pulling it to the backhand to deke around the goalie and slide it into the open net as the Bisons took a 3-2 lead at 5:58 off the Sharman penalty shot goal!

Just seconds after the goal, Alexandra Anderson was called for roughing as she moved bodies out of the front of the net, and the UBC power-play went back to work as Ireland Perrott found room through traffic to tie the game in beating Taraschuk at 7:20! Manitoba thought it had the lead later in the period when Courtlyn Oswald's shot deflected up and over Micklash, but the UBC netminder was keenly aware to reach back and snag the fluttering puck in her glove before it crossed the goal line as the two teams remained deadlocked at 3-3!

It appeared we were in store for a little overtime on this night, but, with 40 seconds remaining in the game, this happened.
Lauren Warkentin's shot went off Micklash's glove and ended up in the vacant net behind her as the Bisons claimed the 4-3 lead! Micklash would head to the bench for the extra attacker after Erica Rieder was called for a penalty, but despite the 6-on-4 opportunity the UBC Thunderbirds could score no more as the Manitoba Bisons secured the Game One victory with the 4-3 win! Lauren Taraschuk made 19 stops for the win while Tory Micklash suffered the loss in this game after making 28 stops.

Highlights are below!

After the mistake the night before, there was a expectation that the Thunderbirds would respond with everything they had on Saturday as they looked to even the series with the Bisons. The Bisons knew what they were in for, so they'd have to elevate their game as well. This one looked like it might be the best game of the year with UBC playing for their season!

This one started off with both teams playing more cautiously than expected as the squads look to establish the forecheck and the pace in this one. However, Karissa Kirkup had other ideas as she slashed through the 1-2-2 utilized by the T-Birds, took a pass from Erin Kucheravy, and was off to the races as she used a similar move to the one Alanna Sharman used one night earlier on her penalty shot as Kirkup froze Micklash and went to the backhand for the opening goal at 2:52 and the 1-0 lead for the Bisons! The remainder of the period saw the netminders go save for save as the Bisons carried the 1-0 lead in the second period despite being outshot 6-4 in the frame.

The second period opened with an early goal as well as Ireland Perrott skated into the middle of the high slot and unleashed a leaser beam that found the twine under the bar as Taraschuk could not stop the shot with traffic in front, and the Thunderbirds had tied the game at 1:42!

However, Tiffany Chiu was called for hooking just 10 seconds later, and the Bisons' power-play took to the ice. After missing the far post with a shot earlier in the advantage, Lauryn Keen spotted Karissa Kirkup on the back post and threaded a perfect pass to to Kirkup who redirected it into the unprotected net at 2:12 as the Bisons restored their one-goal lead! The teams would exchange power-plays later in the period, but the Bisons carried the one-goal lead into the third period and tied 14-14 in shots!

The third period saw Manitoba exert its will on the game as they carried the play for most of the period. Late in the game, Micklash went to the bench for the extra attacker, but Hannah Clayton-Carroll was forced to take a tripping call with Karissa Kirkup heading towards the open net. When the final horn sounded, the Manitoba Bisons claimed the 2-1 victory to advance to the Canada West Final! Lauren Taraschuk made 15 stops for the win while Tory Micklash stopped 21 shots in the loss.

It should be noted that Manitoba defender Alexandra Anderson was injured in this game with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, and she did not return. Here's hoping the senior defender isn't hurt seriously and can return this season for her final games.

Highlights of the game are below!

While technically not standings, here is the Canada West Final series. Game times have yet to be posted through the Canada West organization, but I'd assume that we'll see 7pm MT starts on Friday and Saturday.

The Last Word

Alberta was 4-0-0 against Manitoba this season including posting a pair of shutouts at home in 1-0 and 2-0 wins way back on October 12. Alberta won 3-2 and 1-0 in overtime against Manitoba in Winnipeg, so the Bisons showed a little more flair on home ice than they did in the early part of this season. That being said, here are the other numbers that these two teams posted in comparison to one another this season.

Manitoba has not had a good time in Edmonton, going 1-6-1-0 over the last five years in trips to Clare Drake Arena. On top of that Manitoba is 3-10-2-1 against Alberta in the last five years in total, so things have been in Alberta's favour in a big way. That is, until you get to the postseason.

In 2016, Manitoba eliminated Alberta in Edmonton in a three-game series, and did the same thing last season on Wayne Fleming Arena ice after falling behind in the series 1-0. If you recall, last season also featured the 1-0 quadruple-overtime game that ended 1-0 off a Jordy Zacharias goal, so Manitoba has held the edge in the playoffs when it comes to wins.

Alberta is 15-1-0 on home ice this season including the playoffs while Manitoba is 10-4-0-0 on the road. Manitoba scored six more goals than Alberta this year, but surrendered 20 more goals than the Pandas all season long. Alberta is 4/17 on the power-play against Manitoba this season while the Bisons are 2/9 with the advantage. The catch on those numbers is that both of Manitoba's power-play goals were the only goals the Bisons scored on the Pandas this season as they were outscored 7-2 by the Pandas in the four games they played.

Depending on how the injuries shake out, Alberta's loss of Autumn MacDougall could really affect the Pandas in a major way. She was the conference's second-leading scorer and second-leading goal scorer, and she's the straw that really stirs the drink for that Poznikoff-MacDougall-Ganser line. If she's forced to miss this series, that could be a significant blow to the Alberta offence that they simply can't replace with a player in the pressbox.

On the other side, Manitoba missing Alexandra Anderson is also a big hole in their lineup, but they do have a player who looks ready to contribute in Chloe Snaith who is waiting for her opportunity. Anderson plays such a big game that Snaith can't fully replace her impact, but the Manitoba rookie is smart with the puck, has great instincts, and will one day be a pillar on the blue line for Manitoba. If Anderson is out for the Alberta series, one can't expect Snaith to do everything that Anderson does on the ice, but she can hold her own and that might be the difference in this series when it comes to these two injury situations.

According to a rumour, it sounds like CJSR 88.5 FM in Edmonton will carry the series for those fans looking for a free way to hear the Canada West Final. While I can't say this is a guarantee for those hunting for a way to catch the game without shelling out some hard-earned cash, my sources say that the independent radio station run out of the University of Alberta will be broadcasting the Canada West TV broadcast for listeners. Make sure you tune in to hear the Bisons and Pandas as they'll decide which rink will have the 2018-19 Canada West Championship banner hanging in it next season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 23 February 2019

McDavid Deserves His Break

It seems that the Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid, and a few Edmonton-based scribes aren't entirely onboard with the NHL's ruling on the hit that McDavid threw on New York Islanders defenceman Nick Leddy, pictured to the left moments before contact is made. The NHL handed down a two-game suspension to McDavid, silencing critics that the league is too soft on superstars who commit penalties that need further discipline such as making an opponent's head the initial point of contact. This makes the bewilderment of the Oilers over the ruling all too hilarious considering they would have called for a lynching if McDavid was the recipient of the same hit from Leddy.

Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun opened his article by writing, "For Connor McDavid it was, in a way, like being hit headfirst into the boards from behind, getting suckered by a vicious elbow to the head intended to injure, and driven into the ice away from the play."

Excuse me while I stifle my laughter.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wrote, "If the league is going to apply that standard to McDavid when he steps on the wrong side of the rulebook, it’s only fair that it should also apply its own rules against the players who step on the wrong side of the rulebook to try to stop him from being the best player in the world" before trying to invoke the memories of Maurice "Rocket" Richard using his stick to assault an opponent before punching a linesman that saw him suspended for the final three games of the regular season and the entire playoffs.

Again, I stifle laughter at the false equivalency.

Two games for targeting the head with a check is what the league has set for the standard regardless of intent, malice, nefariousness, or any other factor. The NHL has made it clear that it can't be gladiatorial war out on the ice, and players that target the head with a check will sit for two games at minimum regardless of the circumstances.

The Edmonton Journal asked fans for their thoughts, and there was the usual disbelief that the league would suspend someone of McDavid's skill, but they actually got some responses that show not all fans are blinded by pure fanaticism.

"I think if that had happened to him, we'd be crying foul and you got to treat other players the same," Nima Maham told the newspaper. "The NHL's really got to give every player the same standard. I'm not happy about it, but if he goes hitting people and there's no penalty, it's open season."

And that's the rub: if McDavid isn't suspended for this hit, it sends the wrong message to the rest of the league, the fans, and the world. It says that as long as you're a superstar, you're above the law when it comes to the norms set by the league for this type of infraction. This isn't about making an example out of McDavid, but exactly the opposite - that he isn't outside the rule of law despite him being one of the league's best players and most marketable superstars.

You can say that by simply suspending him for such a docile play that they, in fact, are making an example out of him when comparing the recent suspension given to Evgeni Malkin for swinging his stick at an opponent. While that may be valid, each infraction should be judged on their own to assess a fair penalty for each poor decision. While I agree it's not fair that Malkin only got one game for his stick swing, I also feel it is fair that McDavid was judged by the league's own standard it has set for those who players whose initial point of contact for a check on an opponent is the head. I can't stress this enough: stick-swinging is violent, unnecessary, and completely unavoidable, but it's also different than a two-game suspension standard that the league has set for a check that makes contact with an opponent's head as the primary point of contact.

As much as this will affect the Oilers and their playoff hopes, the call for McDavid's two-game reprieve from action is the right call. The Oilers can be unhappy all they want, but McDavid needs to be better than to put himself in that situation. It's unfortunate that he'll miss time, but the league has made it clear that superstars play by the same set of rules as everyone else.

And that's exactly how it should be.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Best Friends Are We!

It was a big night against the Vegas Golden Knights as the Winnipeg jets rolled into town, and this less about avenging the loss in the Western Conference Final last season as much as it was redemption after a wholly brutal effort against the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the week. Where things went off the rails there can't be pinpointed to one exact thing; rather, the Jets were simply awful on a number of fronts that night. Tonight, though, the return of one player and the juggling of a few lines seems to have been the panacea that the team needed as they entered Sin City.

The return of Nikolaj Ehlers paid dividends immediately for the Jets as he put the visitors on the board just 56 seconds in while bringing his usual Tasmanian Devil-like energy, and that goal seemed to set the stage for the Jets on this night as Kyle Connor made it 2-0 just 32 seconds after the Ehlers goal. The Jets looked like an entirely different team than what we've been seeing over the last few weeks with the newly-formed line of Kyle Connor-Bryan Little-Nikolaj Ehlers restoring a little mojo to the second line.

Vegas, however, found some life off a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare goal in the first period before Shea Theodore tied the the game in the second period as the home side started to look like they were actually interested in playing this game. That is, until the final minute of the period when the Jets found themselves on the power-play and Patrik Laine finally rediscovered the back of the net.
The guy who was stoned nearly every time by Fleury in last season's playoffs gets out of his personal 16-game funk by hammering a shot past Fleury after doing some excellent work to seek out passing lanes for the cross-ice pass. Laine's smile after that goal might be the sweetest of his career, and it put the Jets up 3-2 before Adam Lowry broke out of his own goal-scoring drought with 3.7 seconds remaining as the Jets went into the second intermission with the two-goal lead.

After Jonathan Marchessault scored eight seconds into the third period, a 5-on-3 power-play for the Jets saw #29 load up the cannon once again.
Laine's second goal of the game pushed the score to 5-3, and Andrew Copp made it a 6-3 victory with an empty-netter as the Jets began to look more like themselves from earlier in the yea than they had over the last six weeks.

If you said the Jets still have significant flaws, I wouldn't disagree with you. The defensive corps need one more quality defender added to the mix to give them a top-four that can go toe-to-toe with any other team. If you suggest that they should upgrade that centerman role on the second line where Bryan Little currently plays, you likely won't get much of an argument from me either.

But could the answer to this team's offensive and possession woes have been Nikolaj Ehlers all along? Ehlers carries the puck so well, and his controlled zone entries make the Jets better. Pairing him with another water bug across from him in Kyle Connor gives that second line so much speed up and down the wings that I'm not sure there's a team that can match it. By moving Connor down to the second line and Laine up to the first line, they also give Laine some elite playmakers to work with, and he needs a setup man or men when it comes to scoring goals with that awesome shot of his.

It's only one game, so no one is getting a Stanley Cup parade route ready for Portage and Main just yet. Getting Dustin Byfuglien back in the lineup from his injury makes the Jets better, and they're likely a Stanley Cup threat once more. There are still flaws with this lineup as the team approaches the trade deadline that will force Kevin Cheveldayoff to make some tough choices regarding his team, but seeing how Nikolaj Ehlers re-energized the second line and opened up Laine to play with Scheifele and Wheeler brings something that was missing for so very long to this Jets lineup.

If they can thrive with this new lineup, the West may not yet be decided. All Patrik Laine needed, it seems, was a little help from his best friend on the team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Hockey Show - Episode 335

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, welcomes more playoff-bound players to the studio tonight I prepare for another stats-and-laughs set with three amazing athletes. Beans is taking the night off, so you won't hear his sultry voice over the air tonight, but he's back next week again. If you haven't heard, the University of Manitoba Bisons are preparing to host the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend in the Canada West women's hockey semifinals with a berth at the U SPORTS National Championship going to the winner along with a chance to go to the Canada West Final to compete for the 2018-19 banner. Manitoba is, of course, the defending champions of both Canada West and U SPORTS championships, so we're looking for a big crowd this weekend at both games or, if necessary, all three games! Get out to Wayne Fleming Arena and cheer on the Herd!

We're going to try this whole Sparky-in-studio thing again as I welcome Alanna Sharman, Jordy Zacharias, and Alexandra Anderson to the show tonight! Anderson, as you may recall, was MIA last week as we welcomed Lauryn and Karissa on, so we're hopeful she'll find way here this week! If she does, we'll talk to Alanna and Sparky about their impressive careers, talk about Jordy and Alanna finding some chemistry on that line, and the obvious elephant in the room as these women will gear up for UBC tomorrow. On top of that, we'll chat about the other series that features Alberta and Saskatchewan, a major pro-am tournament coming to Winnipeg, all-star selections from the conference, and more! All of that goes down tonight at 5:30pm CT on 101.5 UMFM and UMFM.com!

You might be wondering where the blurb about the UMFM app has gone. I'm going on record to say you can still use it, but the new UMFM website will fill the needs of our listeners because the new online streaming player is pretty awesome. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari, but we highly recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store. The UMFM app will currently work for you, but there's some work being done to realign it with UMFM's new website, so it may go silent soon. If it does, TuneIn. It's a solid app.

I'm changing up the social media portion as well. I'm losing faith in Facebook, so that option will slowly be allowed to drift off into the horizon. However, the other options still work! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! We're here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz welcomes Alanna Sharman and Jordy Zacharias back to the show while introducing the world to Alex Anderson where these four will discuss UBC, Canada West, all-stars, pro-ams, and much more only on The Hockey Show found exclusively on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the UMFM.com web stream!

PODCAST: February 21, 2019: Episode 335
RESOURCES: Hockey Help The Homeless

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The First Mile Of The Highway

It's hard to imagine that an expansion team can win in their very first season, but the University of New Brunswick Reds are defying logic by not only winning in the regular season, but they've now booked their tickets for the semifinal round of the AUS playoffs in winning their quarterfinal series against the UPEI Panthers! Everything at the outset of the season would have suggested that UNB was under some serious disadvantages - lack of cohesion amongst players, new coaching staff and tactics to which they'd have to adapt, new school, new province for some - that could affect their on-ice play. After last night's win against UPEI, though, I'd say all those disadvantages are not only moot, but may have actually worked in bringing the team closer together faster.

The coaching staff of Sarah Hilworth, Brittany Esposito, and Pamela Pachal have worked extremely hard since Hilworth was first introduced to the public as the new captain of this ship. Hilworth used her connections in western Canada to recruit a handful of highly-skilled players such as leading scorer Tamina Kehler (Chilliwack, BC) and goaltender Kendra Woodland (Kamloops, BC) upon which she built the foundation of her team. Esposito is a former CWHL star with the Calgary Inferno and NCAA star with Northeastern University, so she's got some big-game experience she can pass on to the UNB athletes. Pamela Pachal played in the old National Women's Hockey League with the Durham Lightning and she won an NCAA championship at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, so she too has all sorts of experience to pass on to these women.

Woodland, it should be noted, is a likely candidate for AUS Rookie of the Year as she leads the AUS in save percentage (.945) and is fourth-best in goals-against average (1.70) while playing the fifth-most minutes of all AUS goalies this season.

Surrounding a few key recruits that Hilworth targeted, she added some local, high-end flavor from the Maritimes with Ashley Stratton (Mount Pearl, NL), third-year forward Hayley Hallihan (Miramichi, NB), and senior Jennifer Bell (Miramichi, NB) while filling out the rest of the roster with a multi-provincial mix of young women who have a mix of skills and character that Hilworth sought in her team. In total, 17 freshman are on the UNB roster, and they went out and played their tails off to finish in fourth-place in the regular season and, now, at least fourth-best in the conference!

Tuesday night, that plucky team of freshmen decided to make thing a little more exciting as they rallied from behind to take Game Two in their quarterfinal series against UPEI. Emma Borbandy (Langdon, AB) scored a power-play goal with 1:54 remaining to tie the game at 3-3 before Tamina Kehler buried the series-clinching goal with 27 seconds to play! Woodrose stopped 35 shots on the night after UPEI had outshot UNB 38-15 in the game.

In Game One, UNB raced out to a 3-0 lead through 27 minutes of play, and held on to win 3-2 after surrendering a couple of power-play goals in the third period. Woodrose made 28 saves in the win on that night as well.

The UNB Reds will now face the St. Thomas Tommies with Game One going on Saturday night. UNB is 1-2-1 against St. Thomas this year, but the difference between the two teams is larger than that head-to-head stat may lead you to believe. St. Thomas went 22-5-1 this year, finishing 15 points ahead of UNB in first-place and six points better than second-place StFX. They scored 30 more goals than UNB this season and gave up nine less, so there is a talent difference between these two squads as well.

Most notably, though, St. Thomas only has three freshmen and has seven seniors.

Why is that important? UNB is already playing some inspired hockey with 17 freshmen. This was a season where they worked to put themselves on the map regionally in the AUS and, possibly, nationally in U SPORTS. This is a season where UNB not only reignited a passion for women's hockey in the region, but began building its own legacy alongside a highly-dominant men's program.

Not all 17 freshmen will finish their careers as a five-year senior. Good players will be recruited and may push some of these players to the periphery where they'll choose to follow academics and leave their athletic pursuit. It happens at every campus across the nation - this isn't new. But if two-thirds of those 17 freshmen make their way through three more seasons to senior year, imagine how good this UNB squad may be after playing together, working together, winning together, losing together, and, ultimately, growing together for five seasons.

Honestly, it gives me chills just thinking about it.

The fact that they're already an AUS semifinalist in a year where many had said they'd simply find their footing in the AUS is a sign of the amazing work being done by the coaching staff and these young ladies. They started the season 0-3-1 before rattling off four-straight wins. They played streaky hockey all season - trademarks of a young team - to finish with a 13-11-4 record. But they gained valuable experience, learned important lessons, and took necessary steps to be better - all vitally important checkpoints they likely wouldn't have reached in their first year had they suited up at another university and certainly not among 17 freshmen who are doing this together.

It's that togetherness that will allow this team to ascend to new heights as they get older, get stronger, and play better. This first mile of highway that UNB has installed will pave the way for this program to be a national championship favorite in upcoming years. Doing well in one season is the first step in having this program not only restored to its former glory, but having this program eclipse everything the old UNB program did.

These women are doing something that very few athletes at the U SPORTS level get to do in today's day and age: they're forging a new path for the generations of women who will follow them. And while they're likely all living in the moment of a playoff win and preparation for the semifinal series against St. Thomas, they're part of something so much bigger that they can't even see yet.

How cool is that?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

This Is The Man In Charge

If there is one thing that frustrates me to no end when interviewing someone, it's when they avoid answering the questions asked. Yes, there are occasionally some tough questions that are asked, but you often get a good sense of the person's character depending on how one answers. Bob Nicholson, CEO of the Edmonton Oilers, was on CBC radio this morning in Edmonton with Mark Connolly, and I'm not sure that this interview portrays Nicholson in a positive light after Connolly asked a few tough questions.

If you recall, Nicholson was the man who brought in both Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan to the Oilers before relieving both of them of their duties this year. Nicholson has been guiding the Oilers from a business standpoint for the last few years, and Connolly asked him about some of the struggles that the Oilers have seen in recent years.

I won't go into detail about any of Nicholson's answers, but here is the audio of Mark Connolly interviewing Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson this morning on CBC radio's Edmonton AM.
That wordsmithing and tip-toeing is what most interviewers would categorize as "avoiding to give direct answers to direct questions". It's frustrating to hear because if anyone can restore hope in Oilers Nation, the man holding the CEO's office is the last vestige of where hope may be found. I'm not sure Bob Nicholson did anything to foster hope, let alone restore it.

Kudos to CBC's Mark Connolly for not being afraid of asking the tough question or going after Bob Nicholson with those questions. Some would worry about losing a possibility of a second appearance by Nicholson, but I commend Connolly for asking the questions that a lot of Oilers fans likely have.

If this franchise is ever going to find its way back to respectability, that has to start at the top. You haven't sold me that you have any sort of plan, Bob Nicholson. That's not a good start.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Well We All Shine On

Maybe John Lennon was right. In February 1970, John Lennon released the song Instant Karma! as a single on Apple Records after spending a year in Aalborg, Denamrk - home of the Metal Ligaen's Pirates, a favorite team of this blog - where the concept of "instant karma" was discussed by Lennon, Yoko Ono, Ono's former husband Tony Cox, and Cox's girlfriend, Melinde Kendall. It's funny how that phrase - "instant karma" - seems to pop up in hockey because the young man to the left may have just handed out some instant karma last night. That young man is St. Francis Xavier X-Men forward Sam Studnicka, and he earned the Subway Player of the Game nod in Game Three of the quarterfinal series against the Acadia Axemen.

With the game tied 1-1 midway through the second period, Studnicka found a loose puck in the slot, and he spun and fired it home past Acadia netminder Logan Flodell to put the X-Men up 2-1 - a lead they would not surrender as they went on to down Acadia 4-1 on home ice and advance to the AUS Semifinals against Saint Mary's after winning this series 2-1!

After everything that this young man has been through over the last couple of weeks and after all these two teams have been through over the last two weeks, it's almost poetic justice that Sam Studnicka would score the series-clinching goal to push StFX past Acadia. In a bit of a karmic twist, that was also Studnicka's first goal of these playoffs. It's almost as if this was meant to be.

Instant karma's gonna get you.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

The Rundown - Quarterfinals

There were only four teams in action this week as the Canada West Quarterfinals got underway in Vancouver and Saskatoon! The Regina Cougars headed to the left coast to play the UBC Thunderbirds while the Mount Royal Cougars went east to meet the Saskatchewan Huskies in best-of-three series to determine who would move on to play either Alberta or Manitoba next weekend. Results matter this week as two teams will see their seasons end, so let's get at it on The Rundown!

Friday night's game went in favour of just one team, and it wasn't the team who travelled. Emily Costales got things going for UBC at 5:50 of the first period, and Ashley McFadden made it 2-0 on the power-play at 16:12. The second period saw Madison Patrick make it 3-0 at 2:06, Emily Moore score the fourth UBC goal at 6:59 to end Morgan Baker's night, and Hannah Clayton-Carroll made it a 5-0 game by beating Jane Kish at 10:16. Through 30 minutes of hockey, UBC simply exerted their scoring will on Regina to jump out to a commanding lead.

In a game that featured only one minor penalty through the first 40 minutes of play, UBC was able to capitalize on that advantage. The tables turned in the third period, though, when UBC was assessed two minor infractions, but the T-Birds penalty kill units did their jobs effectively. Regina had a handful of chances in this game, but UBC was relentless in their attack and forechecking pressure, often hemming the Cougars in their own zone for minutes at a time. In the end, they were too much for Regina on this night as UBC took Game One by that 5-0 score. Tory Micklash made 17 stops for the win and shutout while Morgan Baker took the loss after stopping 13 of 17 shots in 26:59 of action. For the record, Jane Kish stopped 11 of 12 shots in relief.

Highlights are below!

After seeing UBC skate up and down the ice the night before, the second game in this series between UBC and Regina had an entirely different look as these two teams filled the penalty boxes all night. However, scoring wasn't limited by the parades to the sin bin.

Adela Juzkova took an early tripping penalty that gave UBC a power-play, and they converted when Mikayla Ogrodniczuk's point shot was tipped by Mathea Fischer past Jane Kish at 2:41, and the T-Birds had the 1-0 lead. They'd double their lead five minutes later when Hannah Clayton-Carroll recovered from a fall into the boards to regain possession of the puck and find Brielle Bellerive out front who went short side on Kish for the 2-0 lead at 7:10!

Regina needed to find some offence after surrendering seven-straight goals to UBC, and they finally cracked the goose egg just past the midway point of the period. While on the power-play, Tamara McVannel's point shot would be stopped by Tory Micklash, but Emma Waldenberger was in the right place to slide the rebound home at 12:11 as Regina cut the lead to 2-1! That score would hold through to the intermission.

The second period started with another Regina penalty, and UBC would make them pay just as they did in the first period. Mathea Fischer wired a shot through a screen in front of Kish for the power-play goal and the 3-1 lead, and that would prompt the Cougars to swap Kish for Morgan Baker. Just 40 seconds after the goal and goalie change, Hannah Koroll would welcome Baker to the game by lighting the lamp behind her, and Madison Patrick would find the twine off a long point shot that found the top of the net as Baker had traffic in front, and it was 5-1 at 5:11.

From there, things kind of went off the rails for Regina as they were whistled ten minor penalties and three game misconducts in the final 35 minutes of play. UBC, for their part, also took part in the penalty celebration with a handful of checks to the head and a roughing call, but the Cougars held a significant advantage when it came to time in the box. We wouldn't see any additional goals scored, but the key stat in this game was the 13 power-plays given to UBC compared to the five given to Regina.

When the dust settled on this one, UBC swept the Cougars in two games with a 5-1 victory. Tory Micklash stopped 14 of 15 shots she faced for her second win in these playoffs while Jane Kish was assessed the loss in stopping just one of the four shots she faced in her 22:19 of work. For the record, Morgan Baker stopped 18 of 20 shots she faced in relief.

Highlights are below!

Third-seeded UBC now advances to play second-seeded Manitoba in Winnipeg next weekend.

The series in Saskatoon showed all sorts of intrigue as these two teams had split the season series 2-2, and Mount Royal held a 14-12 advantage in goals through the four regular season games. Could Mount Royal win their first-ever Canada West playoff game? Could they do the unthinkable and upset the Canada West finalist from a year ago?

Unfortunately, the answers to both questions on Friday was no. Saskatchewan got goals from Morgan Willoughby at 7:12 in the first period, three second period goals that included a power-play goal from Nicole Fry at 7:33, an Emily Upgang marker at 9:15, and a power-play goal from Kayla Kirwan at 13:01, and a third period power-play goal from Bailee Bourassa at 13:57 to skate to the 5-0 win.

Saksatchewan's speed and skill was on display all night as they limited the Cougars to just six shots per period with very few being of the high-danger variety. In the end, Jessica Vance made all 18 saves for the win and shutout while Zoe De Beauville was credited with the loss as she stopped 17 of 21 shots in her 33:02 of work. Emma Pincott relieved De Beauville midway through the second, and she was good on 10 of 11 shots in her 26:58 of action.

Obligatory Huskies GIF? How about Nicole Fry on her first-career Canada West goal!

Game Two on Saturday was a do-or-die for the Mount Royal Cougars as a loss would send them home for another summer while a win would not only extend the series, but be historic in its own right as their first playoff win in Canada West. After being shutout and dominated for long stretches the night before, the pressure was on as the Huskies looked for the sweep!

Whatever head coach Scott Rivett said to his team prior to Game Two, the message was received as the Cougars looked like an entirely different team on this night. They stifled Saskatchewan breakouts and were quick on pucks in the neutral zone as they suffocated the home squad while playing with the last change. Anna Purschke would use the strong defence to pick up a puck in the neutral zone, get a step on a defender, and fire one that went under the bar past Jessica Vance on the glove-side that seemed to surprise the netminder to put the Cougars up 1-0 at 13:22! I might add that Purschke's shot was the first that Vance had seen in the game, so she may have been a little cold on that rocket from Purschke, but it counts all the same!

That same suffocating defensive approach by the Cougars was employed in the second period, but Saksatchewan did have a couple of good chances. However, the goaltending of Zoe De Beauville was solid as she bounced back from her outing one night before where she was pulled in the second period. Through two periods of play, Mount Royal held the 1-0 lead, but found themselves being outshot badly in a 16-7 ratio.

Early in the third period, Daria O'Neill hit Tianna Ko with a pass behind the net, and Ko spotted Breanne Trotter out front where she one-timed the feed from Ko past Vance to put the Cougars up 2-0 at 3:39! The Huskies began taking a few more chances offensively as they trailed by two goals, and they found chances only to be denied entirely by De Beauville. Late in the game, the Cougars would ice the game when O'Neill's blast on the power-play from the point was tipped in front by Jayden Thorpe and past Vance at 18:24, and that would be all Mount Royal needed for their first-ever playoff win and, more importantly, a 3-0 win to even the series at 1-1! Zoe De Beauville stopped all 19 shots she faced for her first-career playoff win and her first-career playoff shutout while Jessica Vance was on the losing end of a nine-save performance.

Here are your highlights!

Who's ready for a little Sunday evening hockey? If you had said either the Mount Royal Cougars or the Saskatchewan Huskies, you'd be right because this series ended in a way only these two evenly-matched teams could play. Hold on for this one, folks - it was an incredible night of puck!

The first period was all about limiting chances as neither side allowed many chances. Both Zoe De Beauville and Jessica Vance stood their ground in keeping the opposition off the board. Mount Royal was called for a penalty, but they would kill that off. At the end of 20 minutes, it was still 0-0 with Saskatchewan leading in shots 8-5.

Early in the second period, the Huskies found the back of the net after controlling the puck in the Mount Royal zone for some time. Emily Upgang and Brooklyn Haubrich won a puck battle in behind the Cougars' net, sending the puck into the slot where Bailee Bourassa wired it home past De Beauville for the 1-0 Huskies lead at 1:53! The rest of the period was played more like the first period as both teams clamped down in the defensive zone, and after 40 minutes the Huskies held the 1-0 lead and a 17-11 edge in shots.

Saskatchewan came out and looked to double their lead as they pressed, but Mount Royal continued to repel the opportunities. After killing off a penalty, the Cougars went to the power-play when Saskatchewan's Jordyn Holmes was called for hooking. The momentum built off the penalty kill carried over as the Cougars moved the puck well. The Huskies penalty had just expired when Tatum Amy's wrist shot from the point found a path through traffic and past Vance into the back of the net at 17:01 to tie the game at 1-1!

When the final horn sounded, the game remained deadlocked at 1-1, so it was time for the most exciting hockey of the season as Game Three went to overtime with the next goal guaranteeing advancement!

The first overtime period saw Saskatchewan dominate the ten-minute period as they outshot Mount Royal 7-1, but there would be no goals scored. We'd move to the 20-minute double-overtime period where Saskatchewan continued to pepper Mount Royal with shots, outshooting the Cougars 13-3 in this period, but the Cougars would not allow the Huskies to score. The third overtime period saw more Saskatchewan pressure as they outshot Mount Royal 34-10 in the free hockey, but it would be the 34th shot in overtime and 60th of the night for the Huskies that was the difference!
Shyan Elias forced the turnover in the Mount Royal zone, and her pass found Rachel Lundberg who one-timed the puck past Zoe De Beauville with 10.7 seconds to play in the game for the 2-1 triple-overtime victory! Saskatchewan wins 2-1 in the game and 2-1 in the series! Jessica Vance stopped 24 shots in 109:50 of work for the victory while Zoe De Beauville made 58 stops in the triple-overtime loss.

Fourth-seeded Saskatchewan now advances to play first-seeded Alberta in Edmonton next weekend.

While technically not standings, here are your Canada West Semifinal series with game times for each game shown.
While I can't speak for Alberta's coverage of their series, I can tell you that the Manitoba-UBC series will be broadcast live and for free on 101.5 UMFM and on UMFM.com. Pre-game show will start 30 minutes before puck drop, so tune in for free via the radio or internet stream for all the action!

The Last Word

There isn't a lot to report on in the first five games of the Canada West playoffs, but there some stats that stick out for the two teams that advanced.

First, the Saskatchewan power-play was 3/10 against Mount Royal, accounting for 3/7 goals scored in the series. UBC's power-play was 3/14 in their series against Regina, accounting for 3/10 goals scored in the series. Both teams used strong power-plays to help them advance, and both Alberta and Manitoba will need to be cognizant of this as they open their series.

On the flip side, Saskatchewan killed 4/5 penalties against Mount Royal, so Alberta will need to work hard in both forcing the Huskies to take penalties and then on the power-play where the Saskatchewan penalty killers are doing their parts. UBC's penalty killers were successful on 6/7 penalties they took, so Manitoba's power-play will have to be at the top of its game in order to win the special teams battle.

I expect some close games as Saskatchewan was 1-3-0 against Alberta, but was outscored just 6-2 in the four games. Saskatchewan is 1-7-0-0 in the last five seasons at Clare Drake Arena, so Alberta's dominance at home is well-documented. However, Alberta was just 1/15 on the power-play against Saskatchewan this season, so it will likely be five-on-five play that determined who wins this series. Alberta has outshot their opponents in 27 of 28 games this season, going 23-4-0 in those games so Saskatchewan will either need to weather that storm and look for opportunities or they'll need to bring every ounce of offence they have in their bag of tricks for every minute of play as Alberta did lose the one game where they were outshot this season. On the road, Saskatchewan was just 6-7-0-1 this season while Alberta posted the best record in the conference at home with a 13-1-0-0 while surrendering just seven goals in those 14 games.

UBC went 2-0-2 in their games against Manitoba this season, and both teams scored nine goals against each other. These two teams might be the most evenly-matched squads in the playoffs with Manitoba holding a slight 4-3-0-1 edge over UBC at home in the regular season over the last five seasons. The key difference in this series is that Manitoba was 0/11 on the power-play against UBC this season while UBC was good on 4/13 power-play opportunities against the Bisons. If Manitoba gets into penalty trouble, that could be the break that the Thunderbirds can use to win the series. UBC was 9-2-2-1 on the road this season where they surrendered just 19 goals while Manitoba was 10-1-2-1 on Wayne Fleming Arena ice this season while scoring a conference-high 45 goals at home.

Canada West playoff hockey continues next weekend so catch the action!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

TBC: Grant Fuhr

Thanks to my cat waking me up this morning at a rather ridiculous hour, I had some extra hands on my time today and I was determined to put it to good use. As I sipped a warm cup of coffee with her purring silently as she slept beside me, I finished off some reading that I has started before this busy February began. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend, written by Grant Fuhr and Bruce Dowbiggin and published by Vintage Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. I thought I knew about Grant Fuhr before reading this, but I now feel that I have a better understanding of who Grant Fuhr is, why he was a good as he was, and what caused his career to be seemingly shorter than it should have been.

From the biography on the Penguin Random House website, "Grant Fuhr was the Hall of Fame goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers, and the first black superstar in the National Hockey League. He is now a role model and fundraiser for charity, inspiring young goalies around the world. Fuhr plays golf at the professional level on the pro Stars Tour, starring with ex-professional athletes who benefit charities by their activities." I'm not sure why they didn't include that he is a five-time Stanley Cup winner, a Vezina Trophy winner, a Canada Cup winner, and played 19 NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues, and the Calgary Flames.

Also from the Penguin Random House website, "Bruce Dowbiggin has covered hockey for the CBC (where he won two Gemini awards as Canada's top sportscaster), the Calgary Herald, and The Globe and Mail, and is the author of several bestselling hockey books. He lives in Calgary, Alberta." He has written The Meaning of Puck which was reviewed here on HBIC along with Money Players which continually appears on my list of books I want to read. He was also part of CBC's team for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Games and was part of radio coverage for the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games.

I thought I knew about Grant Fuhr's career before picking up Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend. Yes, he was part of the Oilers dynasty that won five Stanley Cups. Yes, he won a Vezina Trophy. Yes, he was traded a few times before landing in St. Louis where it seemed like Mike Keenan discovered a fountain of youth that let Fuhr play every game for the Blues. I knew he finished his career with the Flames, but I had no idea about everything else that went on behind the scenes in Fuhr's career that made him the man he is today.

Fuhr grew up as an adopted child to parents who were Caucasian in Spruce Grove, Alberta along with his sister, Debbie. He was a solid baseball player, but the sport of hockey drew him in at the tender age of seven when he proclaimed to his parents that he was going to be a goaltender in the NHL. Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower were his idols thanks to Hockey Night in Canada, and Grant's athletic abilities as a child combined with emulating his idols made him the talk of the town in Spruce Grove as a young goalie.

As he got older, more and more people began talking about Grant Fuhr's skill between the pipes. It attracted a man named Kenny Larue, a scout of the WHL's Victoria Cougars, who noticed his lightning-quick glove hand and his athleticism. By age 17, Fuhr had dropped out of school as he was a full-time member of the Cougars! To reinforce his decision to stick with hockey, Fuhr won the WHL's Rookie of the Year award in 1979-80, and that put him in the talk of a possible NHL job!

The eighth-overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft belonged to the Oilers, and despite having names like James Patrick, Al MacInnis, and Tony Tanti still on the board, GM Glen Sather opted for Grant Fuhr which surprised many after Andy Moog had seemingly claimed the starting goalie position in Edmonton. Nevertheless, Fuhr joined the Oilers, platooned with Moog, and the Oilers had the two men who would backstop them to a decade of greatness in the 1980s.

Along the way, Grant faced the usual hockey problems like hot streaks and cold streaks, bad play, mental hurdles to overcome, and more, but there were some significant challenges he faced as well. Racism was more prevalent when the Oilers traveled to the US, and Fuhr learned to deal with the hurtful comments some would make. He wasn't great with money as a young NHLer, and that dealt him some difficulties. He had kids, he went through divorces, there were contract disputes, and he endured trades that saw him move or friends and teammates move. But perhaps the biggest challenge he faced was his admission of using cocaine and his suspension from the NHL from it due to the negative publicity that came with it. Fuhr, however, endured all of this and came out stronger.

One of these problems was a contract dispute that Fuhr was having the Glen Sather while in Edmonton. For those hockey fans who never want to see ads on jerseys, it seems that agent Ritch Winter had a rather unique idea to get his client a few additional dollars per season in 1989-90.
As a means of expanding Grant's income, Winter had come up with a novel plan to have Grant wear the Pepsi-Cola logo on his goal pads in 1989-90. It was a creative idea, but one that faced a huge roadblock. The NHL did not allow (and still does not allow) individual players to promote products on their uniforms. Winter felt that if the Oilers could not afford to pay Grant his market value, they should at least fight to have an exemption made that would allow Fuhr to make up the difference.
Details like this are littered throughout Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend, and it was enlightening to read through some of the stuff that may be lesser known about the Hall of Fame goaltender. The book itself is split into ten chapters that highlight the ten most important games in his career, so it's easy to work through the 198 pages by chapter if you need to put the book down. What makes this book better is that throughout each chapter, there are comments from Fuhr about the topics discussed that provide even greater insight about the topics.

Overall, I found Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend to be an enjoyable read. It wasn't filled with statistics or long-winded, complicated explanations of complex goaltending tactics, but rather it was the story of a boy from Spurce Grove who made mistakes, found success, and ultimately was recognized for his efforts at the professional level of hockey. Readers will learn that Grant Fuhr is a lot like anyone else in that he has flaws, has passions, and is trying to figure out life, only he played pro hockey while doing all of that. Because of this refreshing read about one of the game's best, it's easy to make Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend a recipient of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend can be found at most libraries and bookstores. It's a pretty tame read when it comes to language, but there is a chapter about Fuhr's admission of his drug use. While I wouldn't say this book is good for kids, teens and older should find Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend to be a good read!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!